Sunday, 29 September 2019

Crier's War blog tour – guest post by Nina Varela



From debut author Nina Varela comes the first book in an Own Voices, richly imagined epic fantasy duology about an impossible love between two girls – one human, one Made –whose romance could be the beginning of a revolution.

Perfect for fans of Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse as well as Game of Thrones and Westworld.

Since reading that short blurb, I've been so excited about this book! Today is the first stop on the blog tour and I have a brilliant post of writing advice from Nina. There's more about the book and Nina's bio underneath the post.

On Poetry
By Nina Varela

A funny thing that happens during book promo is that practically every interview includes the question: “What is your advice for aspiring young writers?” I’ve been asked for writing advice more times in the past two weeks than in the twenty-four years before that, and every time I answer the question I feel like a fraud. Writing advice? My god, I don’t know. What advice is there to give other than “Finish your project”? Writing is so individual, so intimate; what works for me doesn’t work for my best friend, let alone a thousand aspiring young writers. My writing process involves coffee, desperation, and working around a full-time day job. My writing process is I put on headphones and make the words happen because they have to. My writing process is: “Finish it. Just finish it. You can fix it later, just get to the end.” I build stories around evocative locations; my best friend is character dynamics first, plot second; another friend outlines the entire plot before knowing a single thing about the characters, and all of it works. I keep trying to think of advice and coming up empty.

Well, almost empty. What I have is this: I think it really, really helps to read poetry. The thing about poetry is you’re generally working with such limited space, so everything in that space needs a damn good reason to be there. If you have fifteen lines to get your point across, you can’t waste any of them—every single line has to be purposeful, meaningful, every word the exact right word in the exact right spot. Whenever I read good poetry I think about how it seems so effortless, one line flowing perfectly into the next, and then I think about how much effort the poet must have put in. They probably agonized over that word, that line, for days or weeks. Because every last word is important: it affects all the others around it and the whole meaning of the poem. There’s no room for the cliches that so often slip into my writing: common turns of phrase like “The blood froze in her veins,” “It was raining cats and dogs outside,” etc. The most fascinating, innovative, gut-punch writing I’ve read has always been in poetry. When I need inspiration, I read poetry. And once I’ve finished my project, I go through and remove all those tiny nothing-cliches, replacing them with imagery or turns of phrase I haven’t seen before.

I want my lines and words to be purposeful.

All this said, here’s some of my favorite poets: Mary Oliver, Ocean Vuong, Chen Chen, Warsan Shire, Andrea Gibson, Tracy K. Smith, Richard Siken, Ross Gay, Jane Kenyon, Emily Jungmin Yoon, Sarah Kay, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Nayyirah Waheed. Even if you’re not a poetry person, I advise—advise!—that you give some of their work a try. It’s the best thing I ever did for my writing. 

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Thanks so much Nina! That post has certainly motivated me to read more poetry and the poets Nina has suggested look like an excellent place to start. Below, I have the blurb, Nina's bio and information about the remaining tour stops. Happy reading!

Now, Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family's death...by killing the sovereign's daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father's legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn't the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.


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Nina Varela grew up on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina alongside pot-bellied pigs, a meditation hut, and an assortment of fascinating characters who will forever populate her stories. Her work has accumulated over a dozen national and collegiate awards, and her short fiction has been featured in New Millennium Writings and Scribe. As a queer woman, Nina is dedicated to storytelling with diverse representations of sexuality, gender, neuroatypicality, and other marginalized identities. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is earning her BFA in Writing for Screen & Television at the University of Southern California. Visit her at ninavarela.com.

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